(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today (Monday), 24 January 2005, convened a meeting of the Ministerial Committee on the Non-Jewish Sector in order to monitor what is being done for Sector members in various areas.

At the beginning of the meeting, Prime Minister Sharon made the following remarks:

“We are convening the Ministerial Committee on the Non-Jewish Sector today in order to monitor the carrying out of the Government’s decision on the implementation of the Or Commission Report in accordance with the conclusions of the Lapid Committee. I asked to convene this committee as soon as the new ministers assumed their posts so that they might familiarize themselves with the issues that we are dealing with and get to work immediately on implementing them.

Today, we will discuss – inter alia – speeding up the master plans for the Arab local councils, integrating the Arab local councils in joint industrial zones with Jewish local councils and increasing the number of Arab, Druze and Circassian public sector employees, including on the boards of state-owned companies. Regarding this last issue, there has been great progress toward the target that I have set – at least one Arab, Druze or Circassian director on the board of every state-owned company.

Additionally, we will hear a briefing by the Israel Police on its activities in the Arab sector and on the implementation of the Or Commission recommendations.”

The data presented to Prime Minister Sharon show that today there are 577 directors of which 8% come from the non-Jewish sector. These numbers show an increase since the Prime Minister set the abovementioned target. At the end of 2002 the figure was just 5.5%. The Prime Minister said, “I believe this achievement is thanks to the Ravivi Committee, which received clear instructions to delay appointing directors until this condition of fair representation of the non-Jewish sector was met.  I set a high priority for this issue and will continue to follow up on the matter.”

According to Civil Service Commission data, 57,213 people are employed in the public sector today, in contrast to 55,409 in 2003; 3,128 employees are from the non-Jewish sector in comparison to 2,798 in 2003.  In addition the number of Arab employees has also increased in 2004 despite the fact that there was a hiring freeze in that year.